The Royal Opera House have released a few rehearsal shots from Stephen Langridge's new Parsifal, which opens next week.
I can see Simon O'Neil cutting a dashing figure on stage with that physique...
Justin Chapman |
20 November 2013 at 02:19 PM
A shallow opera deserving such deep comment, yes sir.
22 November 2013 at 01:54 PM
Hey, there's a recognisable swan and what could easily pass for a forest behind it. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt....
23 November 2013 at 01:49 PM
I agree. The swan was represented by a green floating napkin in the last staging, so it simply can't be any worse than that monstrosity of a staging. This should also be the last of Kerry Katona's buy one - Siegmund in Walkure - get four free - Lohengrin, Walther, Siegmund (again), Parsifal, smashing cut-price 'hire me a tenor' deal with O'Neill. Please God, let it be so!!
Justin Chapman |
24 November 2013 at 11:22 AM
Any comments from people who have seen it? I am not going to a performance but still undecided about the cinema broadcast.
02 December 2013 at 11:24 AM
Not that great IMO. Some singers aside (Denoke, Pape), it felt long and dragging. The sets were ugly (Nabucco meets The Minotaur lighting - courtesy of same Alison Chitty) and Langridge's proposal had the philosophical depth of a box of cereals and the shocking value of Tom Daley's revelation today. After the recent Parsifals of Bayreuth, Castellucci and Girard this was pretty amateurish and incoherent.
02 December 2013 at 04:36 PM
I went on Monday -loved it! Just go! The singing is wonderful, and the orchestra is fabulous - gave me more goose-bumps than I have experienced for a long time. Rene Pape’s touching Gurnemanz alone is worth whatever you pay for your ticket, and Finley, Lloyd and Willard are all amazingly powerful and strong - soaring into the amphitheatre. Denoke sings like one demented - quite fittingly, and O’Neil, whatever you think of his very bright sound, is always audible and strong, and his progression from scruffy fool to authoritative saviour via anger and anguish is done well. He is static as an actor, but Denoke’s lovely snakiness compensates for this.
The staging and lighting are problematic I think - too sterile - and by Act 3 the cube dominating centre stage just seemed to be in the way. And watching a tottering Gurnemanz clamber back and forth over fallen tree trunks just became irritating. I was too mean to buy a programme (as usual) so don’t know if there was any explanation for the Cube, but I took it to be among other things, a memory-box which contains all suffering, past, present, and maybe future. It contains tableaux of the back-stories, and is the setting for Kundry’s attempted seduction. (I always love the way she just doesn’t give up .....!) At the end, after Parsifal’s healing of Amfortas and the community, all suffering is ended, so the cube is empty. (Nirvana is all suffering ceased.... voidness is compassion and wisdom, so it fits with Buddhist thinking, if that’s what Langridge was after)
There’s a mystic geometry at work perhaps - the cube set within a square on which all the action takes place. Changing colours of the perimeter of the square / mandala indicate different scenes - eg neon purple for Klingsor’s garden. Klingsor takes magic potions out of a miniature cube at the side of the stage. So the staging is of perfect symmetry, which reflects elements in the narrative, but at a theatrical level it was restricting in that the chorus was crammed into two small spaces at the end, and Kundry and Gurnemanz kept wandering back and forth around the cube.
But look, it’s a crazy opera - all that blood and sin and guilt and atonement and ripping off of bandages and self-castration and obsessing with purity are just turgid and slightly unhealthy. So whatever you do with it isn’t quite going to work. I saw Girard’s Parsifal on screen - maybe that interpretation is unsurpassable. Certainly I didn’t feel the performers were operating in ‘another dimension’, as Rene Pape said about the Girard production. But this version is pretty good. The visual austerity is made up for by the wonderful singing, great chorus, and thrilling orchestra. Oh, and the swan does have its own tragic moment ..........
04 December 2013 at 05:45 PM
An alternative view to the above.
Denoke cannot sing the role of Kundry, having absolutely no workable notes above A, anything higher being a snatched at screech in the general direction. The rest is worn and hollow. Finley is entirely overparted as Amfortas, having nothing of Peter Mattei's astonishing vocal power at the Met earlier this year: and his resultant forcing of the tone sends him frequently out of true pitch. O'Neill tries harder in this than anything else he's done at the ROH, and to some extent succeeds: but the continuous references to the handsome youth are preposterous with him in the role, and though he has the notes, and some of the requisite vocal character, it's still a thin, nasal racket quite without gloss or glamour. Kaufmann he is not, alas. Willard White has been singing Klingsor for decades: and it's time he stopped.
Pape is tremendous vocally: and dodders more convincingly in Act III than any other Gurnemanz I've ever seen. But the Nabucco symphony-in-beige left-over designs and costumes, with him in a business suit all night long, reduces the stature of his role to that of a fretful suburban bank manager. To look at, it's just Nabucco again, minus sand-box, plus gauze box. The final image reveals that Parsifal's ultimate message is that even if you've been unfortunate enough to have been born a flaming red-head, redemption will see you reborn as a blonde who gets her slightly shop-soiled former boyfriend after all (so much nicer than dropping dead, I suppose). And only at the ROH would anybody not think that depicting the Holy Grail as an underage boy wearing very, very little was, how shall we say, a bit of a hostage to fortune, all things considered.
The orchestra got its act together - even the trumpets, just about - but though there was some fine playing, the Met band it is not. And Pappano is not Gatti either, the score oddly turgid for much of its length and feeling much slower than its clock-timings would suggest, with an often coarse texture to the sound than missed the more customary floating quality one looks for in this work. Had it been stronger musically, the staging would have impinged less. As it is, it dominated, and though there are sporadic bon moments - such as Parsifal being literally blinded at the end of Act II, hence the wandering - there are some very mauvais quarts d'heures indeed, including the pitiable flower maidens sequence and all the tedious gauze box malarkey in Acts I and III much of which if you're on the sides you cannot actually see.
I never thought to wax nostalgic for Gruber's stuffed shark, the collapsing garden gnomes and the 18th hole at Augusta Act III, not to mention Amfortas's giant pastry-cutter arm: but I almost am, because at least it had some colour in it and told the damn story, rather than another one the director preferred.
06 December 2013 at 02:42 AM
So I suppose I should get rid of my tickets for next week. Only I can't find anything worth exchanging them for!
06 December 2013 at 10:00 AM
I don't think I shall bother going to the cinema!
06 December 2013 at 10:50 AM
I was genuinely excited about seeing this new production but after attending the dress rehearsal I'm afraid I found it all rather dull, grey and pointless - and truth be told I was seriously bored
For all its faults I prefer the previous production. It made no sense having exactly the same set for all 3 acts and the destruction of Klingsor's "realm" was a pathetic non-event. I was totally mystified as to why the Grail was represented by a young boy in his pants and why he had disappeared at the end - but by that point I just wanted to get out of the theatre
It wouldn't really be appropriate for me to comment on the musical side of things as I only attended the dress rehearsal
06 December 2013 at 09:34 PM
God forbid anybody should forego experiencing anything for themselves just because I didn't like it. You might. You never know until you give it a go. All I do is say what I think: and though it tends to the prescriptive - because I've got strong views on the topic - that doesn't mean my prescription would necessarily work for you.
Just to clarify my current thinking, it's not a write-off by any means: and I've seen (far) worse. But the unfortunate fact is that comes on in the same year the Met has staged it, with a much finer cast, incomparably better orchestra, and a staging I personally found heart-stopping, especially in Act III, which I thought visually touched the sublime (if you didn't see it, it's out on DVD/Blu in February, and isn't to be missed). This could be: but why not just suck it and see?
07 December 2013 at 01:31 AM
If even you were "seriously bored" Faye I am definitely not going to see it at the cinema. I tend to think Parsifal is boring at the best of times!
07 December 2013 at 11:49 AM
I have experienced Parsifal twice before, once in the previous ROH staging and then in the Met HD. I was bored stiff both times. After the Met HD I said I was never going to try again with this opera, but I thought I might if this new staging sounded the sort I would like, which it doesn't.
I don't think I can be bothered giving up another five and a half hours of my life to this, I am sure there will be something better to do that evening! It is not only your opinion that makes me say this, but the cumulative effect of that and other things I have read about the production. Even our mutual friend Faye says she was bored by it, and I think she actually likes the opera which I don't really.
07 December 2013 at 05:08 PM
Funnily enough I also used to have problems in the past with finding Parsifal "boring" but gradually the piece grew and grew on me and now I love it - although for some inexplicable reason I still find the seduction scene in Act 2 a bit of a chore
The problem is, due to the length and static nature of the piece you need a really good director to pull it off - and very few can. I've seen the Calixto Bieito production in Stuttgart twice now and for all it's controversy and craziness it's a brilliant piece of theatre and I can honestly say I wasn't bored for a single minute during that version and the time went really quickly
08 December 2013 at 09:21 AM
I finally made it yesterday. The evening was somewhat marred by the audience's holding a 5-hour hands-free, unstifled coughing competition, one of the worst I've experienced in 25 years of opera going. Special kudos to the chap whose mobile went off extremely loudly in Act I Sc II just as Titurel was being wheeled in, and who decided to let it ring out for a good 90 seconds until every last bit of dramatic tension had been sucked out of the scene. Any maestro of less placid disposition than Pappano would surely have stopped the music and walked out.
As for the performance, I agree with some of what SJT said, but definitely not regarding Finley's singing, who was in gloriously powerful voice and in my opinion gave a definitive Amfortas. Hearing him and Pape made me glad that I went. Regarding the staging, one of the worst aspects for me was actually the acoustic effect. There are several scenes where the stage is opened up all the way back, turning it into a giant sound-swallowing cavern. This was particularly bad during the Act II duet where the already underpowered Denoke had to struggle harder, and even O'Neill sounded as faint as a choir boy. Don't directors ever think about the basics?
16 December 2013 at 11:39 AM
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daddy I want a harpsichord